View Full Version : Discuss-a-Quote

William Haskins
06-19-2015, 06:19 AM
three to start... pick one, pick two, all three and share your thoughts. and/or add to the list of quotes. twist and shout. or do nothing but read them and think about them.

“Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.”
― W.H. Auden

“There is no single face in nature, because every eye that looks upon it, sees it from its own angle. So every man's spice-box seasons his own food.”
― Zora Neale Hurston

“Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.”
― Charles Bukowski

06-19-2015, 06:56 AM
They're all delightful and thought-provoking. The Auden and Hurston quotes strike a chord especially with me: even sunlight has facets, and what illuminates some irritates others with its glare.

I'm half-aligned with the Bukowski quote: I don't feel as desperate as that about poetry, and I'm not particularly a fan of poetry as catharsis. It's more something I choose to pursue, although certainly I think I can say better in poetry what may be impossible to express otherwise.


To add to the list, I'd like to recycle a quote I added to AuthorScoop (http://authorscoop.com/2013/01/31/thursday-quote-of-the-night-191/) once upon a time (thank you, William):

"And poems are like angels. They visit often, but you’ve to be watching out for them, and you’ve to believe in them to benefit from their gifts."
-- Frank Delaney, from Ireland

06-19-2015, 11:14 AM
Interesting that you included the Zora Neale Hurston quote. For a couple of days now the line "Their eyes were watching God" and her name have been doing that thing in my mind like a song does.

06-19-2015, 01:00 PM
This is one of my favourites:

is like mining radium.
For every gramme
you work a year.
-- Vladimir Mayakovsky, from Conversation with a Tax Inspector about Poetry

07-08-2015, 11:48 AM
Here's a fun one:

Poetry: Three mismatched shoes at the entrance of a dark alley.
- Charles Simic, Dime-Store Alchemy

07-29-2015, 04:40 AM
I didn't realise that you wrote poetry
I didn't realise you wrote such bloody awful poetry

He knows I exist!

08-02-2015, 10:13 PM
“Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.”
― Charles Bukowski

So I know my opinion isn't really shared on this end, but I really do love this quote. My introduction to poetry, or at least when I started to see it less as some mystical power possessed by people smarter/more sophisticated than I, was through spoken word. I went to a slam with my friend and was absolutely amazed by the handle that people my age had on language and expression.
In the world of slam poetry, there are a lot of organizations created for youth with the goal of creating safe place for them to grow and learn through literature and through sharing their stories in a media that gives them a space to be heard. I saw this do really amazing things for people - their confidence, self-worth, and empathy increased drastically. So for me, poetry has always been much more than just writing. It's about sharing and growing - a way to understand the world around me, and a way to understand myself. "poetry as catharsis" is something that I do support (as long as, you know, it's not unhealthy).
I started writing at a time that I really didn't have anything else. Was my poetry crap? yes. But it was crap that got me through the hardest part of my life so far, and that continues to be a passion for me.

While I identify with both of the other quotes, Bukowski's really hits home. I'd like to hear some other opinions on the matter.

08-02-2015, 11:24 PM
Good for you, Madelyn.

I find Bukowski's quote evocative of an aspect of writing poems that I always find hard to express. Nothing really nails it, however.

I totally agree with you about that community aspect of slam/performance poetry and glad to hear from a participant/practitioner that it has been of such benefit. "Art saves lives" is a slogan that originated as a kind of wry joke, but I happen to believe that art literally saves lives, and so does poetry. Really, it does.

As for cathartic poetry? I guess there has been a lot of verbiage around here about how that isn't really poetry. I don't think that whether a piece of writing, or art, is cathartic or not is what determines its quality or full nature. In other words, catharsis alone is not enough to fulfill a poem, but it can, with skill, go a long way.

Would you be willing to share any examples of catharitic poetry that you admire? Your own or that of others.... That would be most cool.

08-03-2015, 12:59 AM
I think one thing I've been confused on is the definition of poetry and it's relationship to cathartic-ism (or whatever it's called). Honestly, I had to look up the word (catharsis) when I read poetinahat's comment, and the definition I found was this: the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.
and if poetry is an attempt to capture and convey certain moments/experiences of life, isn't writing any poem a process of releasing emotion? And what would be the motive behind writing if not finding some kind of relief in the knowledge that we're not alone in our experiences, or at least knowing that you've been heard?
It never really occurred to me that poetry would ever not be cathartic in some way.

Because of this I've seen everything from Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle into that good night" to Chase Twitchell's "Self-Portrait" as cathartic. But this one I like this one especially: http://www.unionstationmag.com/2013/04/poem-sarah-kay/

08-03-2015, 01:53 AM
That's one gorgeous poem and I am glad to meet it. However, since it is not in the public domain I think you had better remove the text by editing your post and just share a link? (I'm not a room mod here in Poetry but in all forums in AW we adhere to this rule.:) )

I can't speak for poetinahat but I could suggest that possibly some poets come to their poetry from a cooler (less fiery) inner starting place, and for them I'd guess the cathartic element of poetry is minor and secondary if present at all.

For me, the cathartic feature does not truly provide catharsis if it is only an emo-blurt. In other words, poetic skill is required to fully extract the emotion, energy, trauma, unknown joy -- whatever it is -- from the deep place where it first calls out.

We've got a long thread here somewhere in which we thrashed out "what is poetry" rather exhaustively. It's worth a visit if I can remember what it's called.... or someone else may show up who has better cerebral machinery than I have. :greenie

ETA: This may be it: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?307623-What-happened-to-poetic-form Or it may not. I just picked the longest one.

08-03-2015, 11:32 AM
Oh! Thanks for the heads up on public domain - I'll make sure to double check next time. And the thread looks super-interesting, definitely going to check it out.